Pork Tenderloin Braised in French Basque Style


Pork Tenderloin Braised in French Basque Style


Pork tenderloin has frequently been a bargain recent
ly at the supermarkets, and it’s always fairly cheap at the big-box stores. It’s one of my favorite meats to cook with, easily trimmed of fatty or fibrous bits, is highly versatle, and cooks quickly. Great for herb rubbing and roasting, frying, grilling, for kebabs and stir-frying, it can also be braised and stewed in a very short time. Here’s a quickly made provincial French pork and vegetable stew.


This colorful, dish with pork tenderloin is surprisingly easy to make. It fits with my recall of a dinner I had many decades ago at a Basque restaurant in Paris, far from the Basque Country of southwest France. The cooking shows influences from nearby Spain. I can’t recall what starch was served with it, most likely a rice dish, or possibly just baguette. There would certainly have been a southern French red wine to go with it. The reds from the Basque Country and nearby areas of Gascony are made from multiple grape varieties, are hearty and drinkable more than distinguished, and are hard to find in the US. My choice for a reasonable, and available, substitute with this dish would be a Spanish Garnacha or a red Côtes du Rhône.  


I’ve made the dish gluten-free, relying on the vegetables to thicken the sauce, though I don’t really know if any flour would actually be used in cooking this in France. And I did not use olives in it, which I sort of recall were present. The flavors are already rich and complex.. 


The recipe serves six. Accompany with a rice dish or warm crusty bread or dinner rolls. And as always with French food, a green salad goes well.


1-1/2 pounds pork tenderloin (they’re usually 2 to a package, use any extra for something else)

1 thick or 2 thin slices cured or smoked bacon, raw

1 tablespoon olive oil

1 medium-large red bell pepper, cored and cut in 1/4-inch squares

1 medium-large green bell pepper, cored and cut in 1/4-inch squares

1 medium onion, coarsley chopped

5 cloves garlic, minced

1 teaspoon salt for seasoning pork plus 1/2 teaspoon later

1/4 cup red wine

1 (14-ounce) can diced tomatoes

4-inch sprig fresh rosemary, or 3/4 teaspoon dry oregano

2-inch sprig fresh marjoram, if available, or 2 bay leaves

1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper

Large pinch of cayenne


Trim off  “silverskin” or other tough or fatty parts from the pork. Cut meat into 1-1/2-inch lengths.If the pieces are very wide, cut them in half.  Set aside.


On cutting board, thinly slice then chop the raw bacon and place it in a heavy pot with the olive oil. Cut the peppers, onion, and garlic as indicated. Combine them and set aside..


Heat the pot with the bacon and olive oil and fry them, scraping the bottom of the pot frequently, until bacon starts to turn golden. Add the pork and sprinkle all over with 1 teaspoon salt. Stir frequently and scrape the bottom of the pot, until pork has lost its raw color.


Add the vegetables, stir, cover the pot and simmer over medium heat, stirring frequently, 5 minutes. Add the wine, stir and let cook, uncovered, for one minute.


Add tomatoes, 1/2 teaspoon additional salt, the herbs, pepper and cayenne. Simmer, covered but stirring frequently, until meat is tender, about 10 minutes (cut off a little corner and bite into it as a test). Remove from heat and taste some sauce and vegetable for salt. Add a little if needed. Remove any whole herbs.


Can be served now, or cooled, refrigerated, and reheated later. Serve with a rice dish and/or warm crusty bread or rolls.

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